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Columnists

Customers expectation and the Insurance industry in a new normal

There are more avenues today that people are relying on to be better educated and enlightened on insurance-related matters.

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Recapitalisation: 26 firms get NAICOM's approval

As we settle into the new normal, the insurance industry, which had seen much more challenges than other sectors during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to identify the opportunities emerging from the throes of the pandemic.

As alluded in a recent Insurance Report, the insurance business thrived over decades, providing opportunities for young people to be employed, longer-term funds for investments and infrastructural development and stabilization of the industrial and commercial sector through the prompt settlement of claims.

However, people who could be or are customers of insurance may have learnt and moved faster than today’s insurance providers could anticipate because:

  • Most existing products do not meet the needs of customers especially those at the bottom of the pyramid;
  • The prices that customers (policyholders) are required to pay are not risk-based and often, only corporate entities and governments can afford them;
  • Insurance services are rarely available on platforms or in environments where people pursue their interests and hobbies, which would probably instigate them to enquire and engage;
  • Many people are still not enjoying prompt and timely settlement of their claims, so others who hear their stories are hesitant in buying any insurance that the law does not require them to have;
  • The insurance industry is slow in adopting tech solutions to improve customers’ experiences

READ: Insurance recapitalisation, greatest deservice to industry- Mutual Benefit boss

Nevertheless, in different ways pertaining to how insurance is sold; how payments of premium and claims are made; the management of relationships between policyholders and their insurers and how regulators get reports, the insurance industry is now considered ready for technological adoption, especially digitization.

A Digital Experience as the Norm

Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, it was difficult to win an argument that insurance could be sold virtually as the sales process required salespeople to meet prospects and answer their many questions before trying to convince them about taking up a suitable insurance policy. However, today insurers can engage existing and potential policyholders especially the youth population that are comfortable to exchange chats through mobile and online channels and have the information necessary for them to make their decisions about buying insurance.

This means that buyers of insurance can review and compare rates of different insurers, which they could not do before now and payments are made seamlessly on the same platforms within seconds. The turnaround time for insurance transactions are drastically reducing as a result of this while both the insurers and policyholders are becoming more conscious of value as the critical determinant of their relationships than just the prices at which the products are sold.

READ: Race to recapitalization catapult Insurance stocks to best performing asset class in Nigeria

These experiences are beginning to stimulate positive conversations about insurance and the possibility that a new life for policyholders can indeed be real.

Connecting through Effective Communication

Quite interestingly, many people now understand why they should get insurance as our lives become even more uncertain while innovative solutions have emerged that can predict behaviours and actions of people in specified areas thus minimizing the possibilities of losses and damages.

As we begin to recover from the harsh effects of the pandemic and recession, Nigerians should be more aware of the need to protect themselves from future challenges by getting individual life policies for their families, education endowment to secure the completion of the schooling stage for children and emerging new investment products that would better respond to our peculiar macroeconomic issues.

Information about relevant insurance products have become more available and accessible to the insuring public and in formats that they can readily be read, watched, and circulated for the benefits of all. Some still argue that insurance offerings need to be publicized a lot more than is currently being done hence the anticipation of a new life, where communication will be more effective. There are more avenues today through social media platforms that insurance-related questions are being answered and increasingly, people are relying on this to be better educated and enlightened on insurance.

READ: Era of backlog of unsettled claims is over – NAICOM boss

It would be interesting to see insurance companies leverage on this to connect actively on these platforms, especially with our youth population, who remain largely uninsured and unsecured for the future.

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Building Confidence and Trust through Simplicity and Responsiveness

The insurance industry in Nigeria is evolving from one that is merely responding to COVID-19 pandemic to one which offers a new experience through digitization and inclusion.

When young Nigerians are able to download insurance apps that would inform, educate, enlighten and empower them regarding the risks they are confronted with daily, in a similar manner they do with other financial services providers, it will be clearer that the industry is ready to compete for the increasingly competitive economic space.

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Indeed, a new life would have come to the existing and potential policyholders, but which insurance company will do this consistently? With an opportunity to describe the kind of products they would like and the way they will like to be served, young Nigerians would better help such an insurance company not only to deliver customized and innovative products to them but also give them unparalleled experiences.

This approach will certainly cause a major disruption in an industry that has not been customer-centric and responsive to the critical issues of policyholders bordering on claims payments; and the need to earn the confidence and trust of young Nigerians is now.

With the adoption of innovative solutions, a new life is coming for those that have not believed insurance companies can relate with them effectively and meet their needs, keep their promises, pay claims and deliver an entire end-to-end process that can be automated and offered as a self-service.

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Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP, is a management consultant with a specialization in Strategy and Insurance.

Nairametrics frequently publishes articles from experts such as financial analysts, economists, researchers and investors. We also feature articles from guest writers and bloggers who wish to push their views and opinions through our platform.To get your articles on Nairametrics, kindly send an email to [email protected] and we will publish it within 24 hours of approval by our editorial team.

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Columnists

Currency deregulation and finding the true value of the Naira

Why does a government borrowing heavily choose to subsidize the dollar?

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A colleague said to me, “it’s uncanny how your Central Bank’s policy on Foreign Exchange is similar to that of Zimbabwe of 2008”.

I had to go check what Zimbabwe did and where it led them to.  Zimbabwe. after a bout of hyperinflation, abandoned its currency. Nigeria’s current arrangement may get us there.

It is a good time to own a BDC. BDC licenses can cost as much as N15m now. The same license cost about N3m some years ago. Why has it gone up? A BDC can generate a weekly return of N1.3-1.4m just on a $50k bid.  Most people can live on that. With a spread of N65 on a dollar: official at 410 and parallel at 475, why do you have to sweat?

So what is the impact of this? A long run destruction of the economy, a higher subsidy than calculated on petrol and a significant market distortion. A distortion that profits less than 1% of the population and sending a higher number into poverty.

READ: FG rejects IMF’s advice to devalue the naira

With, until recently, accretion to reserves impaired by low crude prices and low volumes, there is a rapid depletion of the country’s reserves. Why does a government borrowing heavily choose to subsidize the dollar?

The answer is corruption. Corruption played out supported by perceptions of what could happen to the middle class if the Naira were allowed to float. Nigerians tend to politicize the exchange rates. It’s for them a sign of economic management. Governments in power have that awareness. It’s part of the play in sustaining corruption.

The future is bleak. The external reserves shed over a $1billion in the last few weeks. Nigeria is consuming the present and the future. There is really nothing to show for the years of interventions. With the ongoing challenges in security and rising poverty, the destination is going to be a crash.

It is time for market unification. It is time for Nigeria to move to find the true value of the Naira. It must stop the corruption in the markets.

 

Written by Demola Adigun

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Columnists

Tinted windows: A quest for privacy and our collective need to be safe

There is an urgent need to balance out the need for privacy/comfort for vehicle owners and the overall security of the society.

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It is 6:30 pm on a cold harmattan smothered evening on Oregun Road in Lagos, and Sola was driving his friend’s car as they headed for an evening hangout. Fred, the owner of the car is sitting in the front seat as Sola attempts to make a U-turn just before the exit into Opebi Link Road when a commercial motorcyclist (Okada) comes speeding on the driver’s side.

In the ensuing crash, the Okada rider was sent flying into the air and his bike slid into the middle of the road. As is normal in Lagos, a large crowd had gathered taking pictures and generally being a nuisance and when they saw the occupants of the car were all young men, the assumption being that they were drunk and that was the cause of the accident.

A Police patrol team on routine patrol arrived at the scene to forestall the breakdown of law and order and immediately moved the crowd away after pictures of the accident scene had been taken. The experienced Inspector who led the team noticed the windows of the car were dark and heavily tinted- with small holes cut into it to allow a limited view of the side mirrors. This limited the angle of view of the driver as he made the turn and thus the accident.

A very high percentage of accidents at turnings/ intersections in Nigeria are caused by poor visibility on the part of drivers in heavily tinted vehicles. The use of 5% tint (which is the darkest form of tint) is most prevalent in quasi security vehicles such as the Toyota Hilux in convoys and in vehicles owned by personnel of government security agencies.

Tinted windows are a fad amongst Nigerians and a status symbol especially for politicians and the wealthy. Tinted windows are basically two kinds: the factory tinted and the fit for purpose tints installed by the owner of the vehicle. Factory tinted windows have the tint coloured into the windows themselves and so it is not removable; while for the fit for purpose tint involves the use of a layer of film over the glass and it can be removed.

Some of the reasons for a window tint in a vehicle include a level of privacy for the occupants, protection from UV rays / the glare of the sun and to provide a look that is pleasing to the eye. Tints were initially only included in Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) because they do not come with a covered-up luggage area (Boot) and so the tint provided some sort of cover for the items in the Boot from prying eyes.

Factory tinted windows have a pigment inside of the glass themselves; while the purpose fit tints require the installation of a nylon film over the window that creates a tint in varying degrees. The degrees range from 50% which is the same as a factory tint, 35% which is a light and acceptable tint, 25% tint which is dark and acceptable in most instances and the 5% tint which is very dark and not acceptable in most instances.

Factory tint can be found on the rear windows of most new and fairly used SUVs and trucks. Tints are measured by the Visible Light Transmission Percentage (VLT%) in terms of the amount of light (UV rays that they allow into the Vehicle) and the 5% is the extreme of the spectrum with very little light coming through and thus it is very dark inside the vehicle especially at night, while the 50% is the very start of the spectrum with plenty light into the vehicle, thus it is bright).

In Nigeria, the Police determines and regulates the use of tints in vehicles and what is acceptable in the entire Federation. The Laws of the Federal Republic Nigeria places the onus and burden for the regulation of the use of tint in vehicles on the Nigeria Police both as a regulator and enforcer of the rules and procedures.

In the beginning, the Police only licensed vehicles with factory tinted windows, but in recent times the permit has been issued for non-factory tinted windows. According to the regulations, exemptions are issued for owners with a medical requirement for these types of tint for their vehicles and owners are required to provide evidence from government-owned hospitals for the permit to be issued.

Some of the reasons why window darkness is regulated include safety issue for vehicle occupant and other road users (i.e., you cannot see clearly enough especially at night and thus become a danger to yourself and other road users). Secondly, law enforcement officers need to be able to see the occupants of a vehicle at any point in time (this might be for purposes of a routine search or just so that occupants are visible in the event of harm being done to anyone inside the vehicle).

In absence of a clear scope from the Nigeria Police on the acceptable levels of tint, what we have in play in Nigeria is individuals opting for varying levels of tints based on their own desires, needs and their location. The existing laws have been widely ignored and this has led to the proliferation of some of the harshest degrees of tints in vehicles in Nigeria and profiteering by unscrupulous groups and individuals in the market for vehicle tints. Road users have been known to be subject of inducements from law enforcement officers especially on the highways between states in the federation.

There is an urgent need to balance out the need for privacy/comfort for vehicle owners and the overall security of the society. The Nigeria Police has on several occasions raised the alarm about the use of dark tinted vehicles by kidnappers and armed robbers. This led to the issuance of the Tint Permit which required a physical inspection of the vehicle and capturing of the biometrics of the owner.

The non-enforcement of the original policy and its dilution with all manner of exemptions have totally eroded the initial gains of the policy. On the Portal for the tint permit hosted on the website of the Nigerian Police, there is a clear notice to vehicle owners informing them that the permit is only issued for factory tinted vehicles and there is a need to enforce this provision if we are going to eliminate the dangerous levels of tints we presently have on our roads.

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While it is understandable that some individuals want to guard their privacy, public safety comes first.

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